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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bringing a Tole Chandy Back to Life

As I mentioned last week, during a recent trip to Philadelphia, I got REALLY lucky at Goodwill and scored a vintage tole chandelier for $5.99. I'd been wanting one forever- but couldn't really rationalize spending much on it- and when I saw this one I was practically giddy with excitement. I love the design- sort of a spiky palm frond look, which is my very favorite when it comes to tole. Exactly what I wanted! 

It sort of reminds me of a less ornate version of this one from 1st Dibs...

I wasn't lying about the price!

I decided right off the bat that I wanted to re-wire it. I had no idea about its age, and unlike with a vintage lamp that you can just plug in to see if it works, with a chandelier you can't really tell until it's installed. I've re-wired a zillion lamps so I figured I'd see if doing a chandelier would be similar- and it looks to be. First I just removed the covers from the sockets, then loosened the screw that holds each side of the wire in place. 

After unfastening all the wires from the sockets, I removed the bottom cover and simply pulled the wires out. Boy was I glad I decided to re-wire- the bottom part of the wires was brown with rust- gross. 

I kept the old wires for future reference to show my friends as Ace Hardware. Basically, you have a wire for each arm that are all attached together with a simple clasp, and then another wire that goes up through the middle and is what wires into the ceiling. It really seems pretty easy.

Next I simply undid the screw that affixes the main "stalk" of the chandelier to the section with the arms. And was left with this. Total dirt and dust. The whole thing was basically filthy. It must have been sitting in a basement. 

Really the only way I could think of solving the dirt problem was rinsing it off gently in the sink (making sure not to get the sockets wet, of course, so that won't interfere with the re-wiring). I still need to get out a toothbrush and get into each and every cranny, but it looks much better already.

I noticed when wiping down the center part that it looks like this chandy was originally gold. As in, gold italian tole. My heart sank. Why would anyone paint over the gold tole? I don't dislike the white, but to know there's gold underneath is annoying!

So now my question is what to do about the whole white/gold dilemma. To strip the white paint off the whole thing would be next to impossible- there are so many little cracks and crevices that I'd never actually get everything off, minus using some sort of chemical stripper, I guess. Plus I'd be afraid I'd ruin the gold underneath by scrubbing hard or using chemicals. So I'm thinking of maybe letting the gold peek through in some parts, though that's kind of a rustic look. Or I could paint the whole thing another color. Thoughts?

I will post more as I progress with the project!


Mary said...

What a cute light! Lucky You! But I would prefer it without the paint.
Read this post on removing paint from a light fixture. Janell was very successful.

Anonymous said...

Check out what Isabella and Max rooms did for a brass chandy:

Basically found something called Smart Strip, which can even work on silver leaf, but you can always touch up with some antique gold Rub and Buff to get the gold back.

If that doesn't work, paint, but it is worth a try to have the gold finish back.

Good luck!

Dina @ Honey + Fitz said...

I guess it depends on the final look you're going for. Letting the gold peak through in flecks like that definitely keeps it looks a little more vintage-shabby which I actually like. But if you are planning to put it in a more formal space then perhaps consider spraying the whole piece a uniform color. I've seen a few of these lately done in really fun, bright colors and they can look great in a little girl's room. Great silhouette. Nice find! I'm so impressed that you're rewiring it yourself!

Shantastic said...

Paint it gold?

Kerry said...

I agree with the earlier poster about trying a gentle stripping product. If it doesn't work you could spray it gold or another color.

kayce hughes said...

I think that you should scrap the idea and just send it to me!

Mandy Mae said...

As soon as I saw this, I immediately though of Janell and her beautiful fixture that she restored to it's original beauty, but I see someone beat me to it!

It's a lovely piece and I'd love to see it restored to it's original beauty too!

Meghan said...

I agree with the previous comments...try to strip it. If it doesn't work, then paint it. Even if it only partially works (i.e. most but not all of the white is removed and the gold stays) I think it would look beautiful. In these situations I always wish I had found it before whoever made the decision to paint...great find though! :)

Ashley said...

I'm speechless. I'm in Philadelphia and have never come across such a great find!

I agree with many of the comments that it may be worth attempting to strip it. A peak of gold is kind of chic, no?

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